I came to Japan at the start of 2009, and I can’t wait for 2010. Stick around, good things are on the way.
Yamashita Tsuneo, “Another Time On The Ryuku Islands” (Tosei-sha Gallery)
This show stayed with me longer than any other I saw this year. The quality and selection of the prints really drew me in, and I was surprised to find that seemingly simple images held my attention for longer than I would have expected. This work strikes me as currently unfashionable but confident; I would not be surprised to see Yamashita-san find a larger audience. [full review]
Fukuyama Emi, “Following the Moon 3” (Totem Pole Photo Gallery)
I’ve heard quite a few people say that if Fukuyama-san keeps up the work she’s been doing, she’ll have a very bright future. I definitely agree. [full review]
Asada Masashi, “Asadake” (Konica Minolta Plaza)
This exhibit got the best audience reaction out of anything I saw, with good reason. [full review on Japan Exposures]
“Travel” exhibit part 3: ‘Travel Abroad’ (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography)
Exhibits here run hot and cold, but this one was a real success. The curators gave roughly 10 photographers ample space to express themselves, using photographs taken outside of Japan. Miki Jun and Kimura Ihee (working in Baton Rouge and Paris, respectively) made the strongest impression on me.
Ota Takumi, “Core” (Totem Pole Photo Gallery)
Expressive, large-format color work that really caught my eye. [full review]
Abe Jun, “Citizens” (Vacuum Press)
Black and white street photography magic from Osaka around 1980. It’s nothing less than a tour de force, you could liken him to a Japanese Garry Winogrand – see the images on John Sypal’s blog for more.
Noguchi Yasuko, “Sakurabito” (Vacuum Press)
Really, a special book, which I should have mentioned earlier. In a way it’s a partner to “Citizens,” but taken over the past few years, with a slower pace. I think this book will age well, as a clear portrait of late 00’s Osaka.
Fujioka Aya, “I Don’t Sleep” (Akaaka-sha)
Akaaka puts out a lot of books that could easily be called “interesting,” but this one goes beyond that description. “I Don’t Sleep” takes the viewer through a highly personal journey with the photographer’s mother, with unexpected detours along the way. I only recently saw this beautifully printed and edited book, which needs a proper review.
These two books weren’t printed in 2009, but…
Ed Panar, “Golden Palms“ (J&L): Along with finding a lab that can process and scan a roll of film for 300 yen, this book was a big reason for wanting to shoot with color film again.
Tsuchida Hiromi, “Zokushin” (Tosei-sha): I got it late in the year, and I don’t know how I lived without it. For now, at least, my photographic bible.
I put many a photoblog in a purgatory folder wihin my RSS reader, but I still closely follow these three blogs about photography culture in Japan.
Japan Exposures, for wide-ranging commentary on Japanese photo culture
eyecurious, for high-minded but extraordinarily clear writing about photography in general, with a focus on Japan in particular
_valerian, for the real “street level” excitement of living and taking photos in Tokyo
You only need to see one OK: